Cole Palmer has nothing to prove to City, says Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino

By Sports Desk April 19, 2024

Mauricio Pochettino believes Cole Palmer will go into Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City on Saturday with nothing to prove to his former employers, insisting he is the right manager to help the 21-year-old continue his stunning ascendancy.

Palmer, who left Chelsea’s Wembley opponents in a £42.5million deal in the summer, is joint top scorer in the Premier League after his four goals in Monday’s 6-0 demolition of Everton moved him level with City’s Erling Haaland on 20 for the season.

He has netted an incredible seven times in the team’s last two home games, including a hat-trick in the breathless 4-3 win over Manchester United when two of his goals came in the 10th and 11th minutes of stoppage time.

He previously scored from the penalty spot in the fifth minute of added time to snatch a point in a 4-4 draw when City visited west London in November.

Palmer has previously stated his decision to leave the champions – for whom he scored twice in August in the Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup – was based on the belief he would get more first-team game time at Chelsea.

That decision has been thoroughly vindicated, with his performances for Mauricio Pochettino’s frustratingly inconsistent side placing him in the reckoning for the PFA Player of the Year award.

His odds on winning the award have been slashed by as much as half with some bookmakers since his Everton haul.

But his manager said there was no possibility the England international would face City with an axe to grind.

“It’s his first consistent season playing, we need to be careful because he’s still young, he’s growing,” said Pochettino.

“He’s already played twice (against City) in the Premier League. He’s very grateful for Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola. He always talks very highly of them.

“He’s not the type of player that has something inside (to prove). He understood perfectly that for different reasons he wanted to prove himself in another club.

“He’s not the type of person to wants to prove something against his former club.”

Prior to joining Chelsea, Palmer had played only 19 senior league games spread over three seasons, and had not scored in the Premier League.

Yet he is now a genuine contender to deprive his former team-mate Haaland of the Golden Boot won by the Norwegian last season.

There is also the growing prospect of his being selected in Gareth Southgate’s squad for Euro 2024 in Germany this summer.

“He has to absorb the pressure to play in the Premier League consistently,” said Pochettino, who previously enjoyed success at Tottenham stewarding young talents though their early years, including England captain Harry Kane.

“It’s about the demands in his private life. He is top scorer. He maybe needs to pay attention to different things than before. That’s going to have an influence on how he is going to prepare himself, how he’s going to rest and going to sleep, how he spends his energy.

“We need to be careful. We have the experience to manage this type of thing, when a young kid becomes a big star. Why is he not performing in a few months? Because his life has changed. He needs to learn from this experience that is completely different to the past.”

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    Nicolas Jackson appeared to question Chelsea's decision to part company with Mauricio Pochettino as Cole Palmer paid thanks to the Argentine.

    On Tuesday, Chelsea announced Pochettino had left the club by mutual consent after just one season in charge, which ended in a sixth-place Premier League finish.

    Several pundits expressed shock at the decision, after an upturn saw Chelsea recover from a poor start to the season to clinch European qualification.  

    Only four teams – Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle United – had a better expected goals (xG) figure than Chelsea (75.3) in the Premier League in 2023-24, while only three – City, Liverpool and Arsenal – had more shots on target than the Blues (215).

    From March 11 onwards, Chelsea's return of 27 points was only bettered by eventual champions Manchester City, who took 28 in that span.

    A number of Chelsea players appeared to be surprised by Pochettino's exit when reacting on social media, most notably Jackson.

    Alongside an image of himself alongside Pochettino, Jackson wrote on Instagram: "Love you coach. Wish we could stay together more.

    "But may God continue to bless you and your family. Thanks for the advice and support, you're a true lion and a fighter, wish you all the best."

    Leading goalscorer Palmer, meanwhile, paid a heartfelt tribute to Pochettino in an Instagram post of his own.

    "Gaffer, thank you for everything you have done for me and making my dreams come true," the England international wrote. "All the best."

    Former Blues captain John Terry, meanwhile, said he was "gutted" to see Pochettino depart.

    Posting to his Instagram story, Terry added: "I just hope we don't sign or sell any players until we get a manager in."

    Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna and Brentford's Thomas Frank have been touted as possible successors, with co-owner Todd Boehly reportedly looking to hire a progressive young coach to work within Chelsea's existing structure. 

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    "Kane is pretty much clear now. He is quite relaxed about it. I think a sensible decision was taken not to push for the last game there," Southgate said.

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    City edged out Arsenal by two points on the final day of the season to win their eighth Premier League title, their sixth under Guardiola and their fourth in a row.

    They are the first team in English football history to win more than three consecutive titles, while Guardiola is just the fourth manager to win six English top-flight crowns. 

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    "I want to share it, especially with Mikel [Arteta] for the incredible job he has done until the last game, bringing us to our limits," said Guardiola.

    "Of course, for Jurgen [Klopp], for the unforgettable battles for many, many years. And Unai Emery, making something unbelievable again to bring Aston Villa to the Champions League.

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